Who is Sarah Hechler?


New social studies teacher Sarah Hechler holds up a globe and a rainbow zebra, two essential decor items in her classroom.

Sarah Hechler boarded a plane to Tahiti in December 2014. This was one of many business trips she took to the Pacific Islands for her job as a travel agent. The previous few weeks, the thoughts of being a teacher had floated around her head, but she made the trip overseas and decided to forget about that.

Hechler experienced the island, seeing some of the most wonderful and beautiful sights she could imagine, she wanted to do this travel agent job for a long time. She had gotten the opportunity to explore other islands, such as Fiji, as well, why would she ever give this job up?

“I got to travel to that part of the world numerous times, which was a dream come true for me,” Hechler said, “I used to look at the globe and on the map and wonder about these remote islands and what they were like, and never really imagined that I’d have a chance to go see them.”

The plane touched down back in New York, the place Hechler called home. Although she had just witnessed the beauty and wonders of Tahiti, the thought of being a teacher still itched in the back of her mind. She wanted to make a difference in kids’ lives, the way her teachers did for her.

“I really looked up to my teachers,” Hechler said, “Especially in high school, my teachers were a really, really big part of my growing up and helping me understand myself, and my place in the world.”

She made the tough decision and started taking preparation classes to get her teaching degree. Hechler briefly toyed with the idea of teaching science but decided on social studies instead. She had attended Kenyon College in Ohio, taking classes in American studies, so the history and culture involved in social studies was what she knew best.

Packing up her bags and moving to Ann Arbor, Hechler enrolled in a year-long intensive teaching course at the University of Michigan. She brought her travel agent job with her, getting an office in a co-working space on Main Street. On the side, Hechler picked up a part-time job at Cherry Republic as well. On top of working two jobs and taking classes, she started student teaching at Community Highschool under Cindy Haidu-Banks.

“I just want to say she was rocking it,” Haidu-Banks said, “I mean I loved her as a student-teacher. I felt more like she was my colleague than I was mentoring her. She came in with so many great ideas about how to teach history.”

“It was a couple of very intense years getting to the point of being a teacher,” Hechler said, “But I’m really happy to be a teacher.” After the whirlwind of the teaching course, she was finally certified.

Hechler sent in her application to teach in Ann Arbor Public Schools and got a job at Skyline Highschool. However, she kept in touch with Haidu-Banks over those few years. Hechler hoped to return to the school one day, as she enjoyed it so much as a student-teacher.

“I really wanted to come back to the special culture that this school has, in terms of recognizing each other’s humanity, curiosity, interest and passion,” Hechler said, “There’s so much that everyone at this school brings to the table that makes it a very special, positive, wonderful place to be. I wanted to be part of that again, as a teacher.”

This school year, Community reached out and asked Hechler to teach history. She now teaches in room 305, enthusiastically telling kids how people lived long before they were born.

Outside of school, Hechler walked down the aisle in her handmade wedding dress — not long before getting her teaching job. This past March, she moved with her husband and cat to Ypsilanti. Though she loves her new house, she misses Ann Arbor.

“I really loved living in Arbor and wandering around downtown, going into Literati, going into the library and going to Downtown Home & Garden,” Hechler said, “It is my favorite place, so I like kind of just wandering around and going in there.”

Today, Ivan Bar is a freshman in Hechler’s World History and Geography class. “Sarah is one of my favorite teachers,” said Ivan Bar, a freshman in Hechler’s World History and Geography class. “She’s really easygoing; she’s just pleasant.”